By KENDRA SITTON | Downtown & Uptown News
Like many small businesses trying to survive amid constantly-changing regulations, The Knotstop is taking creative measures to stay afloat. The spa recently transformed its parking lot into a series of canopies for people to receive personal massages and stretching sessions under. With carpet donated from a local business, lights and the cabanas, they have created an oasis in Bankers Hill with a beachy feel.
“Everyone feels like they’re on vacation a little bit and so the response has been overwhelming that everyone absolutely loves it,” founder Adam Shevel said.
Some customers returned after the move outside because they said they felt more safe than inside the building, even with special sanitation protocols in place. Shevel said many of those receiving treatments are incredibly thankful after months of stress and anxiety building up. He witnessed emotional breakdowns on the table.
The move outside does come with limitations. Finding a method to keep skincare products cool proved impossible so they are currently not offering any skincare treatments. To avoid heat, they are also cutting back hours and are only open for an evening shift from 3:30 to 9:30 p.m.
“It’s just like another roller coaster as we’re just beginning to get back to normal again. Then this is happening again and it’s not only super frustrating because we’ve spent a lot of time and money and energy making sure that we’re taking every precaution possible inside the spa,” Shevel said.
When the spa reopened on June 19, they initially had all of their offerings inside. The business lost 30% of its members and was only able to bring back around 75% of its staff. Shevel installed air filters and UV filters in each room while the spa was shuttered during the initial lockdown – an expensive endeavor while making no money.
As lockdown measures were put back in place, Shevel knew he needed to find a way to continue employing staff, serving customers and staying in business. He invested more money in buying the canopies to move outside into the spa’s private parking lot. Since it was not on public property, Shevel did not need a permit for the move.
Last year, The Knotstop was located inside a Hillcrest mall but it moved locations in January to a converted multi-level Craftsman house that serendipitously had a parking area.
“We were actually on track to have our best year ever and then COVID hit and shut everything down,” Shevel said. “It’s been extremely stressful, just like so many other small businesses, the last few months just trying to navigate… anxiety and trying to save a business I put my heart and soul into for so long as well as save the jobs of all my employees.”
Shevel founded The Knotstop in 2006. By 2020, he had around 45 employees. He did receive a Paycheck Protection Program loan that is helping him pay employees now that the spa reopened.
The constantly changing regulations are also making it complicated to spend that money and follow new rules. Some similar businesses like barbers and hairdressers were able to reopen sooner even though they are just as close to customers. Massage therapists in doctor’s offices, chiropractors and acupuncturists never had to close at all.
“I think our business, somewhat unfairly, has been lumped into everything else. Even though one-on-on, we’re not able to completely socially distance, the volume of people in any given space is very minimal,” Shevel said.
Customers are in individual rooms, and now cabanas, rather than having multiple barbers in a central room with customers or people crowded at restaurants with masks off to eat.
Their survival could still get more complicated in the future. July was exceptionally cool compared to past years. Heat waves in September could mean limiting hours further. To make an appointment, call 619-296-5668 or visit www.theknotstop.com. The Knotstop is located at 2655 4th Ave.
— Kendra Sitton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.